Roger Smith asks: "How is cancer like racism?"
Fresh from the spoken-word tradition, Roger Smith investigates justice in the Black Lives Matter era, often seen through the lens of the cancer survivor. How to cure the cancers of our country? Smith takes up this challenge on every level: personal, familial, societal, spiritual.
Poetry. Memoir. Hybrid. Family & Relationships. African & African American Studies.
“RADIATION MACHINE GUN FUNK is unique even for a hybrid collection of poetry and memoir. Here, in a whip of magic, Roger Smith blends his spoken-word-informed prose and lyric poems to heady purpose. He weaves together his battle with cancer and the recent murders of Black men that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement, both strands rife with issues of social justice—that is, outrage and love of community. In Smith’s case, community starts at home in the borough of Queens, New York, and includes the medical profession, family from Barbados, and friends on and off the block.
“The prose sections give pause and context as we learn about the joys and challenges of process and commitment from Smith’s very particular angle. The poetry does the same for the flow. Neither is whole without the other. This is masterful interweaving. Intense doesn’t begin to describe the impassioned, heated, and committed voice. Unique? Smith’s work is sui generis. This poetry is for the times and beyond.”
—Kimiko Hahn, author of Foreign Bodies
“Roger 'Wyze' Smith raises questions from such a personal stance you have no choice but to fill the shoes provided, and once you find yourself walking a mile in either direction, you begin desperately hoping there’s a chance for an escape. RADIATION MACHINE GUN FUNK asks: which is the lesser of the two evils? Death from cancer or from murder by a cancerous society? The characters are so human when trapped on page that while reading I couldn’t help but wonder why they aren’t granted the same 'luxury' in real life. This book has put into words a dynamic that has always, tragically existed but has not been explored. Please be sure to take emotional breaks as needed as you read. I am both grateful and disturbed by the personal insight Smith is able to give the readers. RADIATION MACHINE GUN FUNK is a conversation needed in the black community. This work is nothing short of amazing.”
—Maya Wright, one of 2021’s top five women slam poets in the world
Roger Wyze Smith is a Brooklyn-born poet of Bajan heritage, raised in Queens, NY. A working-class, married father of three, Smith is the author of two self-published collections of poetry, Laundromats & Lounges (2013) and Chambers of a Beating Heart (2015). His third release French Kissed Black Roses (2015) won third place in the Local Gems NaPoWriMo chapbook contest. Smith was a 2012 Inspired Works Contest Winner, the 2017 Louis Armstrong House Archives Writer-in-Residence, and served as co-editor of poetry on Armstrong Literary Online Magazine 2018-2019. Smith holds a BA cum laude in English from Molloy College, an MFA in creative writing and literary translation from CUNY/Queens College, and is a member of Lambda Iota Tau Literary Honor Society.